Volume 7, Issue 10 - November 2006

The Rate Debate

Industry’s Failure to Work Together is Harmful
by Jim Benney

The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) has been extremely successful in developing a single, credible manner for determining the energy performance of doors, windows and skylights. How successful? Statistics, from 2003 (the most recent available) show the amazing market transformation that has taken place since NFRC came on the scene:

  • 81 percent of all conventional residential windows exhibit NFRC-certified ratings;

  • 41 percent of those windows are Energy Star® Windows; and

  • Low-E penetration in the residential fenestration market is up to 58 percent.

And perhaps the most important statistic of all: The Energy Star® Windows program represents a savings of 7 billion BTUs in a single year. During a period of volatile energy prices, this level of energy savings can really make a difference. 

Success Comes from Teamwork
In my opinion, one of the main reasons for this success is the willingness of the residential fenestration industry to come together in support of NFRC and a single rating program. There have been other examples of the fenestration industry successfully working together to accomplish goals, especially in the code arena. Arguably, none have had the long-term effects of the industries’ cooperation and hard work in the supporting the creation and growth of NFRC.

The recent International Energy Conservation Code hearing was an example of the industry not working together, because industry advocates came to support and oppose an alternative nonresidential rating procedure to NFRC. While the proposal ultimately failed, the real failure was the inability of the industry to support one process for rating the energy performance of fenestration products. One of the committee members even noted that the industry needed to get together and support a single procedure.

Has NFRC failed in developing a rating procedure for the commercial fenestration industry? Or has the industry failed to support NFRC programs? There can be (and have been) arguments raised on both sides. Without pointing fingers, we certainly can see the statistical results of industries’ failure to support a single, credible, third-party rating system. The same year that the residential fenestration industry showed a 58 percent low-E penetration in new windows, commercial glazing only had a 30 percent market penetration! The commercial fenestration market needs transformation. If it had been as successful as the residential market; it could be saving building owners at least 5.8 million BTUs every year. 

So where do we go from here? NFRC has been working on the Component Modeling Program for several years now, and hopes to have a working program in place by 2008. In the interim, NFRC will strive to make improvements to its existing site-built program. 

In the long run, however, unless the commercial fenestration industry is willing to support change, third-party certification and NFRC in general–market transformation will not occur. Which would be a failure by–and for–all of us.

View from the Other Side:
GANA Files Appeal Against IECC Code Development Committee

The Glass Association of North American (GANA) filed an appeal with the International Codes Council (ICC) Appeals Board on October 11 against the International Energy Conservation Code Committee (IECC) for allowing two of its members to vote on a code change proposal for which there was an “inherent conflict of interest.”

GANA is appealing the fact that two board members of the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), who are also members of the IECC committee development committee, did not abstain from voting on code change proposal EC-9. Presented by GANA, the Aluminum Extruders Council and Craig Connor, a codes consultant, proposal EC-9 would have allowed for a reference to AAMA 507 as an alternative to the NFRC 100 site built procedure for the thermal rating of glazing (but not certification) in commercial buildings. The proposal was supported by other industry groups as well, including the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance, but was defeated by a vote of 11-2. Those supporting the proposal cited ease of use, output acceptability and providing an alternative for rating (not certification) as benefits for using AAMA 507. Current procedures were initially designed for residential applications and supporters of EC-9 sought an alternative reference designed for use specifically in commercial buildings. 

“It is a procedural challenge to the failure of two members of the IECC code development committee, who are also active members of the NFRC board of directors, to recuse themselves from hearing GANA’s proposal EC-9,” said Kim Mann, general counsel for GANA. “EC-9 proposes that the IECC adopt AAMA 507 as an alternative compliance path to NFRC 100 for commercial fenestration systems, thus ending NFRC’s model-code induced monopoly on energy rating systems in the commercial fenestration market.”

According to Mann, the GANA appeal claims the two individuals had inherent conflicts of interest and were required under ICC rules to abstain from voting. The appeal also questions the failure of the IECC code development committee itself to force these two board members on the committee to recuse themselves or to even consider committee action to require them to do so. 

Jim Benney serves as executive director for the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). He can be reached at jbenney@nfrc.org.

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